PPS 6: Planning, Archaeology and The Built Heritage
Archaeological Sites and Monuments: Policy BH 3
Justification and Amplification
3.11 Prospective developers need to take into account archaeological considerations and should deal with them from the beginning of the development control process. The needs of archaeology and development can often be reconciled, and potential conflict avoided or much reduced, if developers discuss their proposals with the Department at an early stage. Flexibility is much more difficult and expensive to achieve once detailed designs have been drawn up and finance arranged.
3.12 It is therefore in the developers own interests to establish whether a site is known or likely to contain archaeological remains as part of their assessment of its development potential prior to submitting a planning application. The first step will be to consult the Northern Ireland Monuments and Buildings Record which contains database information on all known archaeological sites and monuments and which is maintained by the Environment and Heritage Service. Informal discussions at this time will help to provide prospective developers with advance warning of the archaeological sensitivity of a site. Development plans may also afford some assistance to prospective developers (see paras 2.5 - 2.7).
3.13 In certain cases following submission of a planning application the Department may use its powers contained in the General Development Order to request further information in the form of an archaeological assessment or an archaeological evaluation. An archaeological assessment normally entails a desk based study, by a qualified archaeologist, of existing information including records of previous discoveries, historic maps or geophysical surveys. An archaeological field evaluation involves ground surveys and limited and targeted licensed excavation which is quite distinct from full archaeological excavation. Evaluations of this kind help to define the importance, character and extent of the archaeological remains that may exist in the area of a proposed development, and thus indicate the weight which should be attached to their preservation. They may also provide information useful for identifying potential options for minimising or avoiding damage. Such information will permit informed and reasonable planning decisions to be taken by the Department.